BACKGROUND: Hewitt Associates, a global management consulting firm specializing in human resource solutions, is the largest provider of total outsourcing services for employee benefits plan administration with more than 11,000 associates located in 74 offices in 35 countries around the world.

PLATFORMS: The software runs on Arkidata's systems. Arkidata utilizes a client/server application running on Window NT, 95 or 98.

PROBLEM SOLVED: Our clients worldwide need to provide high-quality data upon conversion and rarely have the requisite staff or tools to accomplish that goal. To solve this problem for our clients, Hewitt frequently works with Arkidata for purposes of providing data cleansing, consolidation and migration services. Since Arkidata oversees management of the data, we can devote our own resources to other value-added activities such as client due diligence, enhancing our product/service and offering or increasing efficiencies in our ongoing operations.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Hewitt has collaborated with Arkidata in 13 client engagements, all of which were highly successful endeavors. From the target population of .5 million records with an average error rate of 50 percent, Arkidata was able to bring the error rate to under five percent.

STRENGTHS: Arkidata's software is highly sophisticated, yet user friendly. It takes only a few weeks of training for a business analyst to perform very complex data quality analysis. Among the key features, Arkidata's technology is a dynamic environment to manage and test data, permits the high-speed exchange of data among multiple databases, facilitates complex data quality analysis, enables the high-speed correction of systemcatic errors and maintains an auudit trail of all changes for easy, permanent reference.

WEAKNESSES: The software does not provide adequate flexibility for simultaneous cleaning and migration of various subsets of the data. This may cause undesirable bottlenecks in the processing and impact production schedule of data migration.

SELECTION CRITERIA: Compared to other tools in the marketplace we tested, Arkidata has a more comprehensive solution which applies business logic to analyze and clean the data. Various ETL tools can match data, remove duplications, fill in the blanks or, in general, make the data consistent. How-ever, these tools do not deal effectively with the complexity of source and target systems along with the ever-changing business and transformation rules. It is critical that any outsourced functions be predictable in terms of cost and timing of deliverables. Customized approaches, which are quite common, do not achieve that objective. In terms of project length, Arkidata requires three to six months, which easily fits within a nine to twelve month implementation time line. In addition, projects are quoted on a fixed-fee basis, depending on the size and complexity of the engagement. Another important factor is the amount of vendor/client resources devoted to supporting the outsourced function. With Arkidata, there is some degree of client/vendor involvement at the beginning ­ supplying documentation, interviewing plan administrators, etc. Other than that, client/vendor time is minimal. For instance, Arkidata might need our support for the following: reviewing randomly selected test cases supplied by Arkidata to validate that their data correction rules are generating the same results as the client's past practices would warrant and reviewing a preliminary report in which Arkidata presents its recommended correction rules.

DELIVERABLES: When the analysis phase is complete, Arkidata submits a preliminary report which quantifies the result of the analysis and recommends data correction rules. At the completion of the project, Arkidata delivers cleaned data conversion files along with a comprehensive audit report, which identifies all approved data correction rules and quantifies results of the data cleansing project ­ numbers and types of records corrected by each rule and outstanding errors remaining in each category.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Since Arkidata manages the data cleansing, consolidation and migration projects in house, the software is run on Arkidata's systems. In terms of the service that Arkidata delivers, they have been very responsive to our needs and have endeavored to be very flexible during client engagements. Knowing the data will be delivered clean and well before the live date with very little additional system efforts required has been a tremendous asset to our outsourcing projects.

DOCUMENTATION: Arkidata provides client reports which are customizable, concise and easy to understand.

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